Pinewood Group agrees $425m takeover deal
The Pinewood Group is set to be sold to an asset management business in a deal worth just over $425m (£320m).
Pinewood, which owns studios and facilities in Buckinghamshire, Shepperton, Cardiff, as well as Malaysia, Canada, the Dominican Republic and the US, announced its desire for a takeover at the start of the year.
It claimed it was hobbled by a tightly held shareholder register that had held back investment and prevented it from listing on the stock exchange.
Pinewood chief executive Ivan Dunleavy welcomed the $425m (£323m) from the US fund.
“We believe that we have found the right partner for the business and one that shares our long-term vision for the future of the group,” he said.
“Pinewood’s continuing commitment to the UK’s creative industries remains as strong as ever. Staff and customers can be assured that in this new strategic partnership our priority will be to not only maintain, but build on the world class provision of services.”
The storied studio has long played host to US and UK blockbusters including the Bond franchise, a string of Marvel titles and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The deal is backed by Venus Grafton, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of PW Real Estate Fund III LP. It has a £3.3bn warchest from investors including pension plans and other institutions in Europe, the US, Asia and the Middle East to spend on real estate in the UK and Europe.
London-based independent asset management business Aermont Capital is an investment advisor to the funds.
Due diligence has been completed on the Pinewood deal and the next stage is for financing arrangements to be finalised. The process could take up to four weeks.
Aermont managing partner Leon Bressler said Pinewood was an “iconic brand” at the heart of the global creative industries.
“The transformation of the business in recent years has been considerable and it is clear that there are more ambitions to be realised. We are excited about the potential to support the business as an independent company,” he added.
“Aermont has a strong track record in operating companies with a real estate component. We look forward to working with Pinewood’s management team to deliver their compelling strategy for future growth, both in the UK and internationally.”
Pinewood’s two largest shareholders are Goodweather Investment - which is a subsidiary of MediaCityUK developer Peel Holdings - and jewellery retailer Warren James Holdings, which hold 39% and 26% respectively.
In 2013, Pinewood launched a plan for the $263 million (£200m) expansion of its Pinewood Studios site in a bid to meet the growing demand for UK studio space. The first phase of the expansion was completed last month.
Pinewood becomes the second major UK film company sale post-Brexit, following Wanda’s acquisition of Odeon. Both buyers will have been encouraged by the weaker pound.